Lorry drivers arriving in England from outside Britain and Ireland for more than two days will need to take COVID-19 tests in a bid to tackle the spread of any future variants, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Sunday.
Affected hauliers will need to take a test within 48 hours and one every 72 hours thereafter as part of the new rules. "This is to ensure we keep track of any future coronavirus variants of concern," Shapps wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this week that Britain might need to tighten restrictions on arrivals from France, including truck drivers. A similar move by France in December caused chaos in southern England when it was introduced at short notice but the industry believes there is now enough rapid testing available for it not to cause too much of an impact, a source told Reuters on Friday.
Britain has banned foreign travel until at least May 17, although essential workers such as truck drivers have been allowed to cross borders to supply the country's food stores and manufacturing plants. The government is soon to face a major decision over whether and when to allow summer holidays.
The Sunday Times reported that overseas vacations would be unlikely until August, whilst The Sun newspaper said ministers were considering a three-tier traffic light system alongside the use of vaccine passports and testing to unlock trips. On Sunday, culture minister Oliver Dowden said a number of factors were being considered and that a taskforce would report at the beginning of April amid rising infections on parts of the continent.
"The situation in the rest of Europe is very worrying," he told Times Radio. "We need to ensure that if there is international travel, it's done in a safe way."